On a rainy afternoon in May 2021, I met the man I’ll call Toshio (敏夫) in this piece. He was born and raised in Hachioji (八), a city in western Tokyo Prefecture, and came to the Netherlands as a student. First Eindhoven, then to Delft. Eventually he found his steady job and his great love in Utrecht.
Text and image: Muse Navy
“I knew nothing about Holland, just to be an engineer there,” says Toshio. “Oh and that’s Miffy from there! All the girls in my class thought Miffy was cute.” And what about the boys? Toshio smiles shyly and looks away. “Maybe… but then they didn’t dare to say it. At least not to me. I guess they felt I was no ordinary boy.”
“In Asian cultures you don’t talk about sex. But when I saw pictures of boys together, for example on a movie poster or in a book, I felt things about it. Things I didn’t know a word about. I loved Korean movies and kept movie posters for a while. It was The boys are then usually “normal” brothers or friends, so that wasn’t a problem. But when we were learning about China and the Soviet Union in history at school, I sometimes saw pictures of siblings that confused me. I didn’t look at that long. I tried to focus on my homework.”
“When I fell in love with a woman for the first time, I was relieved. She was a teacher in our school and I found her very exciting. But most of my likes at the time were with boys and I was very ashamed of it. I think these feelings are a common thread in my life.” When we started our conversation, Toshio didn’t know which kanji to choose. He explained, “It’s a little… difficult for me, because I don’t think that way. I don’t think: what do I love most, what do I want more? I just try to look around what is needed and meet that as best I can.”
However, when Toshio saw his current wife, he immediately knew that he loved her. “I saw her on the street and it was like a movie, where time slowed down and everything around her became out of focus. At first I thought ‘what a pretty boy’ but when she turned… it was like being struck by lightning. She is small, flat as a board, And her hair is very short. The kind of girl she’s called in Japan a ‘garusun’, from the French word for boy, because she’s boyish. I fell in love with her, but it took some convincing before she was my girlfriend!”
One of the reasons his wife hesitated at first was that she thought Toshio looked dull and colorless. “Today’s younger generation seems more free, they dress more androgynous and question the norms of masculinity: If women are allowed to wear pants, why are only girls and women allowed to wear skirts and dresses? This was not a problem at all in my time. How attractive I was as a man,” says Toshio. depends on you otokorashisa Your masculinity – and can judge the outside world based on your credibility, status, loyalty, and productivity. Now women often look at a man’s haircut and how he is dressed. ”
It also appears that the male/female ratios are changing in Japan. But appearances can be deceiving and rebellious clothes can also be adolescence. “More and more are coming iku men – Men raise their children – but the basic Japanese model of masculinity is still the office clerk: he has a steady job, wears a suit and bag, and thus provides for his family. This is an image that I do not fit in.”
In Holland, Tuccio found pictures, squares, and other examples. However, it is not the case that he prefers the Netherlands over Japan. “I will always be Japanese, because I love Japan and am proud of my background and culture. But as a bisexual Japanese I now feel at home in Utrecht.”
The name Toshio is a pseudonym.
Titled “The Power of Kanji,” the Japanese Fan Foundation is conducting artistic research on the Asian people of Utrecht. They will present the results of this research in interviews and kanji (Chinese characters) from September in various community centers and libraries in Utrecht. The Japanese Fan Foundation aims to establish a center for Japanese culture in Utrecht. “As a Japanese Bisexual at Home in Utrecht” is an exclusive introductory publication for Gaykrant.
Martin Moses PhD student at the Center for Gender and Diversity at Maastricht University. In addition to her research, she is a professional musician and visual artist. She is currently working on various projects for Japan Fans Foundation, including a series of piano concerts featuring music from the Ghibli films. for technical researchThe Power of Kanji’ interviewed Utrecht residents of Asian descent and incorporated their stories into words and images.
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